Luís Onofre appointed as new CEC President

Luís Onofre new CEC President

The Portuguese businessman Luís Onofre, and current Apiccaps President, will take over the new office as the head of the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry in May. In the upcoming months, the European footwear industry is set to deal with several brand-new challenges, both on local and on a global scale, that encompass a wide range of topical issues. A pivotal and critical mission awaits the newly appointed president of CEC – the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry, that is, Luís Onofre, who will take over from Cleto Sagripanti. On the occasion of the latest edition of Micam, we interviewed the Portuguese entrepreneur and designer – current president of Apiccaps (the Portuguese Footwear, Components, Leather Goods Manufacturers’ Association) -, focusing on the trends that are shaping the growth and development of the footwear sector.

Due to its international success, the Portuguese footwear industry is constantly looking out for new outlet markets. Speaking of which, how is the USA-oriented project going? We are really satisfied. This project was launched last year, when we presented in NYC a series of Portuguese,fashion-related companies, apparel and leatherware enterprises included. Domestic footwear brands took the chance to attend the trade shows held in Las Vegas, MAGIC and FN PLATFORM. We are equally proud of the 70% growth in China’s turnover share.

What about Europe? The situation is a bit more complicated, due mainly to the doubts aroused by Brexit: things will be clearer once the procedure will be over. Currently, we are worried about the slowdown of German economy. We are following closely all developments.

What is your stance concerning e-commerce’s steady growth? This trend has contributed to the overall market uncertainty. At the beginning, many believed that e-commerce was not going to gain a strong foothold in the footwear sector, mainly because the clientele enjoys direct contact and a first-hand shopping experience. However, once you know a brand really well, e-commerce turns into a useful tool. For this reason, Apiccaps has been investing significant resources in the development of the Industry 4.0 as well as of specific skills related to online trading. This is the future and we must get ready, so as to keep up the pace with the needs of an increasingly sophisticated market.

If digital tools are experiencing an astounding success, fairs, on the other hand, are going through a difficult phase. According to you, have they lost their role as sales platforms? Undoubtedly, the “fair” concept has changed significantly over the last few years: exhibitions are still important showcases for the promotion of brands and designers, giving to visitors the chance to admire first-hand the collections on display. I am very interested in the strategy carried on by Momad, that is, to bring under the same roof apparel, footwear and accessories. Furthermore, in my opinion, it would be great to implement a platform that, as the fair is taking place, gives us the chance to sell our articles online as well: by providing customers with a password, they will be able to take part in the show even via remote. It is a truly complicated project, yet with great potential.

What goals are you going to pursue as you take over CEC presidency? I am bent on carrying on the policies and projects fostered by the current president Cleto Sagripanti, a truly competent professional that has an in-depth knowledge of the sector’s dynamics and trends, a person that I deeply admire. The ultimate goal is to do everything in our power to effectively safeguard the interests and the needs of the European footwear industry, while promoting its excellence and competitiveness worldwide.

Is the partnership between Apiccaps and the Portuguese fashion system still in place? Certainly. Apiccaps is involved in several pivotal events that encompass different segments of the domestic fashion sector, as in the case of Portugal Fashion and Moda Lisboa, two special happenings organized in collaboration with other industry associations as well as with those of young entrepreneurs like ATP and ANIVEC. They are the perfect occasion to put on display the manufacturing excellence of the Portuguese fashion system as a whole.